A little piece of China will soon be setting up in the heart of the city, following the success of Birmingham's annual German market.

A Chinese market is part of Birmingham City Council's plans for 2008 - as outlined by council leader Mike Whitby today.

Based in Victoria Square during the summer, the venture will be one of a number of events to be held in the city to mark the China NOW festival.

The national year-long event has been described by organisers as "the largest celebration of Chinese culture" ever to be held in the UK.

Officially launched next month, the start of the festival will coincide with the Chinese New Year.

Throughout the first half of 2008 until the opening of the Beijing Olympics, it will see more than 800 events, performances and activities in locations throughout the country.

With the Beijing Olympic Games planned for August 2008, Coun Whitby said there was "little doubt" China would be at the forefront of international attention.

As a result, he said, the year ahead would see a renewed focus on the city's Chinese connections. "We look forward to hosting a series of exciting activities for the China NOW festival throughout 2008, culminating in a Chinese Market in Victoria Square over the summer," he said.

In addition, Coun Whitby said the Birmingham Royal Ballet had plans for trips to three major Chinese cities in January next year in an attempt to further strengthen the city's links with China.